RIM has been in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. From CEO resignations to confused corporate strategies and plunging revenues, the Canadian manufacturer seems to be in dire straits. The now infamous four-day global outage in 2011 signalled the start of the company’s woes, with cancelled handset launches and delayed OS updates further compounding the issues.
From this stark analysis it would be easy to think that the writing is on the wall for RIM. However, it might well be foolish to write-off the smartphone pioneers just yet. The brand’s iconic business handsets still have a large base of loyal fans this is something that many have failed o factor into their arguments when churlishly writing off the company. Here we take a look at the strengths of the manufacturer, and why it still has a future as both a corporate and consumer brand.
The BlackBerry Legacy
The BlackBerry story started in 1999 with the humble 850. The device was essentially a two-way pager, but the integration of enterprise email created a formidable USP that has been built on ever since. Inevitably, it was the world of business that first adopted the BlackBerry, with the ubiquitous QWERTY keyboard and messaging facilities meaning the user essentially had the office in their pocket.
More recently the rise in popularity of the BBM instant messaging service has opened up the handset range to a new audience, giving rise to a much expanded product range and a fresh approach with regards to the marketing of handsets. The addition to of touchscreen devices such as the Torch series of handsets to its range shows that BlackBerry is more than willing to expand its horizons and remain focused on innovation. Additionally, the PlayBook tablet, which despite limited sales remains a critically acclaimed device, has only gone to prove that the manufacturer is able to adapt to new markets and capitalise on its strengths.
The current flagship Bold range of smartphones, including the 9900 and 9790, have both garnered glowing reviews thanks in no small part to the combination of a traditional BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard alongside a cutting edge design and feature list.
Looking To The Future
It is over the next 12 to 18 months that RIM will really set out its stall with regards to staking a claim in the future of smartphone technology. The highly anticipated BlackBerry OS 10 has been rumoured for many months, with little in the way of concrete details emerging as of yet. However, with the platform touted to build on the excellent QNX-based PlayBook OS and expected to have highly streamlined functionality, it seems that the operating system will be able to carry the BlackBerry aesthetic more than comfortably.
From a handset perspective it is the much-vaunted BlackBerry London that has made the most headlines. It’s anticipated that the device will feature an ultra-slim form factor, dual-core processor and minimalist lines. If the speculation turns out to be accurate, the London will certainly be a huge shift in BlackBerry tradition and a bold departure for the brand. But with the addition of BlackBerry 10 and rumoured compatibility with Android Apps, the device may well be the key to propelling RIM back into the limelight.
Despite arguably suffering a spectacular fall from grace, RIM has remained true to its ethos of delivering intuitive mobile solutions while continuing to push forward technological advances. Admittedly, the company has lost its way a little of late and luck has seemingly not been on its side (the castigation of BBM as the cause of the London riots in 2011 springs to mind). However, with Thorsten Heins now at the helm and the company actively seeking to reinvent its image, we predict a return to form for the Canadian smartphone trailblazers over the coming months.